Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Indian Telcos try alternative energy to ease costs

Telecom companies like Bharti, Reliance and BSNL are looking at alternative sources of energy to cut their expenditure on development of infrastructure sites.

Telecom companies spend 30-40 per cent of their operating expenditure on running the towers on power. Solar energy, wind energy and bio-diesel are expected to be the new sources of power.

“We have successfully conducted a pilot testing in Orissa using a hybrid of wind and solar energy to generate power,” said Senior Vice-President of Bharti Infratel VS Rawat.

Infrastructure sites need a round-the-clock power supply. Due to shortage of power in rural areas, operators have to be dependent on generators that run on diesel. This increases operational cost. Major part of the energy is consumed by air conditioners required at cell sites. Operators in some areas have resorted to “heat exchanger” and other passive cooling devices, to work as an alternative to air conditioners.

Relliance Communications has also resorted to other non-conventional sources of energy. “Alternative sources of energy cannot fully replace the existing sources of power. We have tried non-conventional sources of power at many rural sites, bio-fuel being one of them,” a company source said.

Bharti Airtel aims at installing 30,000 more towers this year, taking the total number of towers in its possession to 70,000.

“We spend around Rs 15,000 on power in a month at every site,” added Rawat.

BSNL has already used alternative modes of power. “We have used solar energy in places where efficient power is inaccessible,” said AK Gupta, Senior Deputy Director General (Civil).

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